, Volume 171, Issue 1–2, pp 34–43 | Cite as

Inhibition of fungal growth by plant chitinases andβ-1,3-glucanases

A morphological study
  • M. Arlorio
  • A. Ludwig
  • T. Boller
  • P. Bonfante


Plant chitinases and β-1,3-glucanases have been demonstrated to inhibit fungal growth in model experiments, both on agar plates or in liquid media. Here,Trichoderma longibrachiatum was taken as a model to study the morphological changes caused by chitinase and glucanase treatments, using cytochemical techniques in combination with fluorescence and electron microscopy. Chitinase, alone or in the presence of glucanase, arrested growth of the hypha: it affected the extreme tip of the fungus producing a thinning of the wall, a balloon-like swelling and a rupture of the plasma membrane. Chitin and glucans were present in the wall, as shown by lectinand enzyme-binding experiments, but they had a different susceptibility to chitinase and β-1,3-glucanase. Chitin was present at the apex and in the inner parts of the lateral walls; it was more susceptible to chitinase at the tip than in the subapical part. Glucans mostly occurred on the outer layer where they were degraded by glucanase. The latter did not affect the inner hyphal skeleton. It is suggested that the growth inhibition ofTrichoderma by hydrolytic enzymes is the consequence of a thinning of the cell wall in the hyphal apex, leading to an imbalance of turgor pressure and wall tension which causes the tip to swell and to burst.


Fungal growth Chitinase β-1,3-Glucanase Antifungal hydrolases Pea Trichoderma 



wheat germ agglutinin labelled with fluorescein isothiocyanate


concanavalin A labelled with fluorescein isothiocyanate


polyethylene glycol


scanning electron microscopy


transmission electron microscopy


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Arlorio
    • 1
  • A. Ludwig
    • 2
  • T. Boller
    • 2
  • P. Bonfante
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro di Studio sulla Micologia del Terreno del CNRDipartimento di Biologia Vegetale dell'Università degli Studi di TorinoTurin
  2. 2.Botanisches Institut der Universität BaselBasel
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Biologia VegetaleUniversità di TorinoTorinoItaly

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